Going through my camping gear a few weeks ago before an outing to Utah, I was struck by how long I’ve had my sleeping bag.
It has traveled many wonderful places with me and kept me warm and comfortable at night. I see no reason I’ll ever need another one. It’s my last sleeping bag! Also, I have my last tent, coolers, etc.
This makes me think of “last things.” I’ll probably need one more car in my lifetime, the bike I have will last as long as I’ll still be able to ride, but I’m wondering if I’ll ever make it hiking down into the Grand Canyon again.
These limited years we all have now are changing the way I think about things. The reality of loss of ability and what I really need now dictates what I buy and do in these remaining years.
I see friends flying to far-away places they’ve always wanted to see while they still can.
Traveling is becoming more difficult, and it feels like “now or never.” One friend recently flew to the Midwest and then to California to see people one more time that have made a difference in her life. She wanted to thank them and tell them how much they influenced her. A real pilgrimage.
Another friend tells me she and her husband are on their last dog. Pixie is quite old, and they just don’t think they have the energy for the training and acclimation of a new dog, puppy or not.
I recently told my dentist, “Just fix my teeth so they can last another 15 or 20 years ... after that, who cares?”
It’s also a good time to look at our living spaces. Do we feel like this is where we want to end our lives? Do we have the support and care we may need there? Do we feel we belong? If not, perhaps it’s time to explore a new place to call our last home.
Some more questions, as we look ahead to our remaining years and try to make the most of them:
Are we using our wisdom and skills to nurture and contribute to our fellow humans and communities? Are we working through the issues that cause us to feel regret about our lives and overcoming anything we feel unfinished about? Have we forgiven those who need forgiving, including ourselves? Are we continuing to grow as elders so we may become all that we can be, even in this old age? Do we need to work on our legacies, both spiritual and practical, or at least focus in on what it is we would like to leave behind? Are our affairs in order and easily found by whomever we leave on this earth?
As I go through my days now, it’s funny to think of all these things in a new way. When younger, we all felt so immortal, and like, who would ever consider some of these issues? Things change, and so do we. This is where we are now. Time marches on!
Martha McClellan was a developmental educator in early childhood for 38 years. She has moved her focus to the other end of life and written a book, “The Aging Athlete: What We Do to Stay in the Game.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.